When I was doing my Post graduation in Clinical Biochemistry a couple of years back, Assam (a state of India in the eastern most part of the country) had been severely affected by torrential rains and a flood like situation had developed. Having grown up in a town, I had not much inkling as to how things would be in the aftermath of such weather in the inner corners of the state where accessibility is a barrier.
As rains subsided, an outbreak of Cholera had started, killing many.
In the modern world, cholera doesn’t find much of a place. But places where healthcare access is compromised, it does happen.
It was then decided by the Government that Doctors would be sent to those areas for treatment of those afflicted. What followed and what I saw was unbelievable. A feeling of sadness and mockery on the state of these people could be felt by all of us.
Different Doctors were sent to different areas of Assam. We were a group of 4 doctors sent to a remote place of which we had no inkling. It gives me much sadness on describing the state in which my less fortunate brothers and sisters live.
We packed some things and were on our way. The initial part of the journey was good as there were proper roads. There is a railway track keeping us company parallely. After about 70 -80 miles, we had to cross the railway track at a station and then move further inside. The car could carry us for another 15-20 miles after which the driver said that the roads are simply too bad to drive. He said that we would have to walk the distance which is another 6-7miles and that he would wait for us in a nearby hotel.
Because it had only recently stopped raining, the roads were muddy and very slippery. You could hardly walk. Somehow we managed to walk after which we had to cross a small river. There was a boat waiting and we somehow cramped into it to be taken to the other side. The boat is nothing compared to the boats of today. If the boat were to sink, there would be no life jackets or any first aids. Everyone was on their own and luck.
We somehow managed to reach the other end and got aboard. The roads were so muddy that you could not step without slipping. Somehow, they had tied a rope on the sideways and you would have to catch hold of it and make the distance.
We finally reached the place. And it was really surprising, saddening and sickening to see what we saw. There was one dilapidated house that was referred to as a Health Centre where there was no electricity, no phone connection, no other doctors and a lot many sick persons. Until that day, there had been no one to look after them and once we left, it would be the same as it is.
When we went further interior, you could see distraught parents mourning the death of their children.
Many adults too had died.
We did what we could and came back after a couple of days.
This experience has been in my mind for so long now. We elect our representatives through popular choice so that they bring into notice the sufferings of the people for addressing. We might say that the Government acted by sending Doctors, but to me it was just a temporary fix to a big problem. We have such big time idiots that rule us who have not a single idea as to what to do which results in addition of misery to our already miserable lives.
Circumstances have made me stay out of my state for quite some time now. I don’t really know as to how health care is in the interiors. But, from what I have been reading, there has not been much change. I really feel sad when I think how much people suffer for lack of good initiatives and faulty policies. We are not living in jungles. We are citizens of a state for which we pay a good amount of taxes which should be properly utilized for roads, electricity, housing and health care. If other countries are doing it, why can’t we? Life is too precious to be frittered away due to somebody’s incompetence.
Also let me add that there are a lot many Doctors who have shied away from the attractions of a Metro city or an urban life. They have worked day in day out with minimum facilities for helping the poor and the less fortunate. These are the true preachers of a really noble profession. Unfortunately, they are often tagged as to be not very highly qualified and never rewarded for services they render. For me, they are my real Heroes.